Microsoft Resisting Same Day Digital/Disc Releases
It’s a small thing, but annoying nonetheless: the fact that you have to wait months before a digital version of an Xbox 360 game is available for download on XBLA. I know it is at least for me – Sometimes the difference between me giving money to someone, and not giving money to someone, is my current willingness to venture out to a game retailer. Too bad for me I guess, because while Sony has recently experimented with making digital downloads on PSN available the same day a game launches in stores, Microsoft has no intention of following suit, at least for now.
“We don’t do Games on Demand on day one, we focus on boxed retail for day one,” said Xbox Live UK product manager Pav Bhardwaj to MCV. “That’s where our focus has always been and will remain that way for the foreseeable future. We release a game roughly six months after it arrives at retail at full ERP. That’s our model and we’ll be sticking to that. It’s a successful model, so why change something you don’t need to?”
“It comes down to choice,” Bhardwaj also said, referring to their model. “The customer has the choice of going to retail on day one if they really want to buy a particular title, or to wait a couple of months and buy it full price from the Xbox Live marketplace.” That’s true. It does come down to a choice. But it seems odd that they would prefer to lose a bit of money on the sale due to the retailer’s cut when they can cut them middleman out and keep the full amount. But… “It’s a successful part of our business, we’re very pleased with the growth and it continues to do really well. Clearly there’s an audience out there who are happy to purchase a product at full ERP six or so months after [its retail release].”
So there you have it, true believers. No convenient not-having-to-visit-Best Buy/Wal*Mart/GameStop/Etc for you! At least if you’re buying for Xbox 360. This is, however, probably for the best. Microsoft, of all the console makers, probably has the biggest interest in locking down games with hell of DRM. A switch to same-day digital downloads would almost certainly be a toe-dipping in the water of digital only. Hopefully, this is a hint that Microsoft isn’t planning for the Xbox 720 to be a used-games killer.
And for the record, Microsoft is still better than Sony on one aspect of this issue: You can actually get Xbox era games for download on 360. It is still not possible to download Playstation 2 games on PSN, and that, my friends, is total bullsh*t.